This 1945 ad for Post Grape-Nuts Flakes was aimed at young boys. And the context in which such ads appeared was boys’ adventure comics, which often featured intrepid white explorers trekking into Darkest Africa in search of lost cities filled with gold (cities that were sometimes even populated with lost Caucasian tribes possessing strange occult powers or advanced technology). Africans were typically portrayed as animalistic, violent, spear-hurling natives; or when good (i.e helping white people), were perfectly loyal, subservient followers, like muscular Kolu in Alex Raymond’s Sunday newspaper strip Jungle Jim, who referred to his boss as “massah.” Raymond was most famous for creating Flash Gordon, and was a brilliant draftsman; but his racial politics, to put it mildly, were as unsophisticated as those of his contemporaries (Jungle Jim was written by pulp author Don Moore, who with Raymond, also co-wrote Flash Gordon, but was uncredited)
The colonial assumption that non-whites were incapable of self-government was a sad historic fact, and one that was the amoral foundation for colonial exploitation, slavery, and imperialist expansion around the world for hundreds of years. It’s worthwhile noting, since this is an ad for a corporate product, that colonial governments worked hand-in-glove with private corporations to maximize profits; corporate profits were specifically backed by the military might of garrisoned troops, both sent from the motherland and recruited locally (for example, the Nepalese Gurkhas, who so fiercely fought against the East India Company, that once the dust had settled the company hired them as mercenaries).
But Volto doesn’t give a shit about history; he just wants to make sure you eat a balanced breakfast. Murder is just collateral damage.
- The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place: An excellent Washington Post article about the ongoing Western dehumanization of Africans
- 1940s Food Ads from Vintage Ad Browser
- A Brief History of the East India Company on Wikipedia
- Not every colonialist was an asshole; read about the intrepid Mary Kingsley